III. Other Initiatives

A. Review of Drug-Intelligence Architecture

Intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination are essential for effective drug-control. An ongoing, comprehensive, interagency review of counter-drug-intelligence missions, activities, functions, and resources is determining how federal, state, and local drug-control efforts can be better supported by intelligence. This review will make specific organizational and procedural recommendations to improve intelligence support to the national counter-drug effort.

B. Countering Attempts to Legalize Marijuana

Marijuana is a "schedule I" drug under the provisions of the Controlled Substance Act, Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, because of its high potential for abuse and lack of accepted medical use. Federal law prohibits the prescription, distribution, or possession of marijuana and other Schedule I drugs like heroin and LSD and strictly controls schedule II drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. Federal law also prohibits the cultivation of Cannabis sativa, the marijuana plant. Marijuana is similarly controlled internationally through inclusion on Schedule I of the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

In response to anecdotal claims about marijuana's medicinal effectiveness, NIH sponsored conferences in 1997 involving leading researchers and is supporting peer-reviewed research on the drug's effects on the immune system. ONDCP also is supporting a major study of research on the potential medical uses of marijuana. This eighteen-month study, conducted by the Institute of Medicine, is considering scientific evidence on topics including: marijuana's pharmacological effects; the state of current scientific knowledge; the drug's psychic or physiological dependence liability; risks posed to public health by marijuana; its history and current pattern of abuse; and the scope, duration, and significance of abuse.

The U.S. medical-scientific process has not closed the door on marijuana or any other substance that may offer potential therapeutic benefits. However, both law and common sense dictate that the process for establishing substances as medicine be thorough and science-based. By law, laboratory and clinical data are submitted to medical experts in the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Food and Drug Administration, for evaluation of their safety and efficacy. Unless the scientific evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that the benefits of the intended use of a substance outweigh associated risks, the substance cannot be approved for medical use. This rigorous process protects public health; allowing marijuana or any other drug to bypass this process is unwise.

C. Ten-Year Counter-drug Technology Plan

The development and deployment of new technologies is vital to the success of the Strategy. ONDCP's Counter-drug Technology Assessment Center (CTAC) is the federal government's central drug-control research and development organization and coordinates the activities of twenty federal agencies. CTAC identifies short, medium, and long-term scientific and technological needs of federal, state, and local drug-enforcement agencies, including surveillance; tracking; electronic support measures; communications; data fusion; and chemical, biological, and radiological detection. CTAC also participates in addiction and rehabilitation research and the application of technology to expand the effectiveness of treatment. Research and development in support of the Strategy is being conducted in the following areas:

Demand reduction: to support education and information dissemination in support of prevention and neuroscience research and medications development.

Non-intrusive inspection: to rapidly inspect people, conveyances, and large shipments at ports-of-entry for the presence of hidden drugs.

Wide-area surveillance: to reduce the supply of illegal drugs by detecting, disrupting, and interdicting drug growth and production facilities, and drug trafficking in source countries, the transit zone, and the United States.

Tactical technologies: to ensure that new technology is quickly assimilated into drug-control operations of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Specific initiatives include: research on artificial enzyme immunizations to block the effects of cocaine; positron emission tomography scanning to understand the process of addiction; information analysis in support of juvenile diversion programs within the criminal justice system; installation of non-intrusive inspection systems for trucks and rail cars along the Southwest border; and deployment of relocatable over-the-horizon radars to monitor drug flights in Central and South America.

Previous Contents Next